Tensions between those trying to do the right thing / those on the wrong side of God’s will are common, especially in the context of families. In this talk (36 minutes) we will examine 5 sets of family member: 1 husband/wife, 1 grandmother/grandson, 1 father/daughter, and 2 fathers/sons.
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- Pharaoh’s daughter / Pharaoh (daughter / father, and princess / king)
- 14th BC
- Exodus 1:15-17, 22; 2:1-10
- The hero is a pagan, a worshipper of the Egyptian gods—the daughter of Pharaoh!
- We’re not told whether she ever told her father she had adopted a Hebrew baby. Nor are we given any details about her interactions with her father, the Pharaoh. Besides, pharaohs tended to have many wives and children. (Ramesses II lived to age 90, reigning close to 70 years, and had perhaps 100 children!)
- Even though Pharaoh himself was considered divine, he is mocked—not by verbal scorn, but by God moving in the simple heart of a young woman—one who moved at cross-purposes to her father to safeguard the future welfare of God's people.
- Perhaps adopting Moses was the result more of natural affection than virtue, and it’s possible she was unaware of Pharaoh’s decree—as was Jonathan in 1 Sam14.
- Jonathan / Saul (son / father, and prince / king)
- 11th BC
- 1 Samuel 14:24-30; 18:1-4; 19:1-6; 23:16-18
- Jonathan is not taken in by his father’s authoritarian outburst, or by his foolish (and counterproductive) decrees.
- He evinces loyalty, but not stupidity.
- Another great quality of Jonathan—a stark contrast to his father—is his capacity for friendship, esp. with David, who Saul now regards as his mortal enemy!
- David and Jonathan have a deeply spiritual relationship.
- Jonathan is also humble, happy to serve as David’s number two guy.
- Jonathan was at cross-purposes with Saul. Jonathan never did become king, or even live long to enjoy his relationship with David. He, like his father and brothers, dies in battle against the Philistines. Our next character became king, but only after a period of hiding (many years)…
- Joash / Athaliah (son / grandmother)
- 8th BC
- 2 Chronicles 22:11-12; 23:1-21; 24:1-22
- Athaliah was the grandmother of Joash. She was a wicked woman but a strong leader, seizing control of the southern kingdom of Judah and ruled it for six years. Jehoiada the elderly guardian of Joash knew that the ungodly Athaliah was ruining the nation and he had the nerve to depose her once the time was right. There follows the account of one of the manycoups d'état of the Bible.
- Joash, guided by the elderly priest Jehoida, deposes his grandmother Athaliah.
- The boy-king begins his forty-year reign well. After some time, he restores the lapsed Temple, and even challenges his guardian Jehoiada to expect more of the priests and Levites!
- Yet when Jehoiada dies and his spiritual influence no longer shapes Joash, the boy-king quickly declines.
- In short, Joash lacks character. He even has Jehoiada's son Zechariah (not the minor prophet but a different person) executed for challenging his sin. As a result, the Lord does call him to account in accordance with the words of the dying Zechariah.
- Finally, Joash is defeated in battle, even though his forces far outnumbered the enemy.
- We see that Joash was at cross-purposes with his grandmother, and also (sadly) with God. Like many of us, his life was a blend of the wonderful and tragic, faith and lack of faith. Yet his story is finished; ours is still being written.
- Whereas Joash goes from good to bad, our next king goes in the opposite direction. Josiah!
- Josiah / Amon (son / father)
- 7th BC
- 2 Ki 21:19-24; 22:1-2, 11, 13; 23:1-3
- Josiah is one Judaean king through whom Yahweh offered his people one final chance to be right with him—to be saved—from Babylon.
- Yet his father (Amon) was a wicked, ungodly man. Josiah is the opposite of Amon, and certainly did not live up to his father’s expectations, just as Amon was the opposite of the later Manasseh, grandfather of Josiah.
- And then the long-lost book of the Law is discovered….
- Josiah fears the Lord and honors the word of God, sending to the prophetess Huldah to learn what the Lord would have him do.
- Josiah renews the covenant, and things seem to be going well for Israel, yet his reformation did not last long.
- Josiah was certainly rowing against the tide, for most of the leaders and people of Judah were at cross-purposes with Yahweh.
- Next, we will examine two monarchs who aren't in the land of Israel at all. Not in Egypt (our first pair), but in Persia. Worshipers of Ahura Mazda—over 1000 years before Islam would make the land become the Islamic Republic of Iran.
- Vashti / Xerxes (queen / king, wife / husband)
- 5th BC
- Esther 1:1-5, 9-10, 12; 1:15-2:1; 2:4, 17
- 486-465 bc Xerxes: his dominion is a big territory—and the banquet is a big deal.
- The king cares about his reputation, glory, power… but the Lord is not impressed—as with Babel in Gen 11.
- Inebriated, Xerxes summons his wife so that her beauty may be displayed. Yet Vashti refuses to be gawked at.
- The King of Persia is made to look foolish—here and throughout the book of Esther. (Connection with Pharaoh—his silly laws are flouted right under his nose.
- Like the other Gentile king, Pharaoh, his projection of hubris and perfection is revealed to be vain. The other 3 monarchs, Saul, Athaliah, and Amon, are also shown to be not only ungodly but sham leaders.
- We may often find ourselves at cross-purposes with those who are not following the Lord. This may esp. be the case with family members, as with Pharaoh’s daughter, Jonathan, Joash, Josiah, and Vashti.
- So, how should we interact with those close to us—people involved in our lives, whether family or not—when there are conflicting agendas?
- Respect them – always.
- Please them / obey them – usually.
- Ignore them – if they are pushing you to go against God’s will.
- Don’t live for the approval of the world, or of worldly people.
- Take our stand with the people of God, knowing that ultimately his will will be done. And may the Lord strengthen our resolve to live this way!
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If you have enjoyed the OT Character Podcast series, there is also a NT Character series, with about 70 talks, covering some 90 characters. But please don’t stop with the 175 persons given attention in these two series. After all, there are 100s of biblical characters!